Education is the subject of intense and inflamed debate. There are as many different theories of education as there are people to teach. Each has their own philosophy and intended outcomes, and in the end, probably none of them are all bad – unless it is Dotheboys Hall we are talking about.
Montessori sensitive periods are about orienting the teaching to the child. The opposite from making the child fit into the school. A Montessori teach will observe a child acutely and then allow them to learn at their own pace but within the group.
The Montessori method is more than 100 years old, so in no sense of the word is it a new method, but it gives a child a solid basis from which to move forward in the school system.
One essential part of the system is that children are in mixed-age classes. This isn’t just a pre-school thing either. You can get classes of 16-18-year-olds. The point is that younger children mix with older children to the obvious good of both groups.
Younger children learn from older ones, who realize a natural mastery of the material. It is often said that the best way to learn something is to teach it – and Montessori is that principle in action.
It isn’t true that children decide what they want to do – or not to as critics would suggest. The learning area is prepared by the teacher and although there is an element of freedom in what the child may do in the learning block, there are boundaries. A skilled teacher provides a learning environment where the boundaries are there but don’t create a restriction.
This is by no means some sort of happy-clappy free for all. Children are prepared for the next stage in their education journey and are not behind those taught in a more rigid system.